Example UI Spec: Awareness

Hubbub’s main screen shows a list of people (called Bubs) whom the user has added to Hubbub and has put into the group AT&T (shown in the upper right). Bubs are listed with the user at the top, followed by those bubs who are on line right now (either active or idle) in alphabetical order, followed by those who are offline, also in alphabetical order. Each bub is listed either in bold to indicate that they are currently active, or in regular font to indicate that they are either idle or offline. A user is considered active if they have used the pen (Palm) or mouse or keyboard (PC) within the last 5 minutes. They are considered idle if the device is reachable but they’re not active. They are offline if the application is not reachable, which in the case of the Palm would happen if the modem was off or could not receive signal, and in the case of the PC may happen if the person is not running Hubbub, if they logged off, if the computer is turned off, their network connection is lost, etc. A user may be active or idle on the Palm even if they’re using another application at the time. [Note: We’re not sure we can do this, but this is the goal.]

The numbers next to each bub indicate how long they have been active or idle. If the bub is active, the number indicates how long they’ve been active; if they’re idle, it shows how long they’ve been idle with a minus sign in front. Time is measured in hours:minutes (not seconds). The icons next to the numbers indicate which device the bub is active on if they’re active, or was last active on if they’re idle. The keyboard icon indicates the PC, the Palm icon indicates the Palm, and the phone handset indicates the phone. (Version 1 does not include a phone client, so this would not appear until that client is implemented.) If the person is unavailable, they are listed as “Offline.” [Should we give time since last available??]

For bubs who are active, a small indicator to the left of their name indicates how active they are. That is, it indicates the frequency of mouse or keyboard events (PC) or pen events (Palm). This enables users to get some sense of the other person’s activity. If they’re very active, then maybe they’re busy writing, if they’re not very active, maybe they’re surfing the web or reading. This information is another small cue to help people feel connected and to give them context should they try to contact each other. The meter has four states: idle, low activity, medium activity, and high activity. [We will need to define what that means in terms of number of events and per what unit of time.] Walendo and Libby show high activity, Bonnie shows medium activity, Ellen shows low activity, and Jonathan, Julia and Steve are idle. The group label also has an activity meter, which gives the average activity level of everyone in the group, including those who are idle. This gives a quick measure of how many people are active (and therefore accessible). (The groups menu shows the average activity for each group, which is when this is most useful.)

If a user has awareness sounds turned on for a particular friend, then each time that user changes from active to idle or the reverse, the user hears an audio indication. If their friend becomes active, then they hear the active sound followed by the Sound Identification (Sound ID or SID) for that person. If they go idle, they hear the idle sound followed by their SID. In addition, the user gets a visual cue to indicate the change. The header bar flashes the message ” is active” or ” is idle” for [5] seconds.

The speaker icon in the left-hand column shows whether the current user is accepting awareness sounds about this person. (If the speaker is filled in with “sound waves” coming out, then sound is on, if it is hollow, then sound is off.) The user can click on the speaker icon for any person to toggle it from on to off or the reverse. In addition, the user can always Mute the entire interface by clicking the Mute button at the bottom of this screen (also available from other screens). The Mute button turns off all audio from all people, including incoming Sound Instant Messages, awareness sounds, and alerts of incoming Text Messages. The Mute half of the choice button is selected and all the sound icons become hollow, indicating that no sound is arriving. When the user unmutes by tapping the sounds half of the choice button, all the sound icons return to the state they were in before the interface was muted. [We might decide to have a “semi-mute” state that plays a single short sound each time a message comes in but does not play the full range of sounds. This would enable people to know when a message came in even when they were in a situation where all the sounds weren’t appropriate.]

When sound events arrive when the system is muted, the user sees the visual feedback that ordinarily accompanies these sounds, but they don’t hear the alerts. If someone tries to send a friend a Sound Instant Message when the friend’s sound is muted, they receive an alert telling them so. [Need to show what that looks like.] (This is different from the case where someone is blocking sound messages from another person, in which case the intended recipient gets no visual notification. In either case, the sender is told that the recipient has sounds turned off.)

Users also have the ability to block others’ access to their activity (active/idle) information and/or their location information, in which case their listing would change. Figure P2 shows the case where Chris has blocked Walendo’s (the current user) access to both his location and activity information. As a result, his name appears in regular font with no active/idle time, no location icon, and no speaker (since it’s not possible to enable awareness sounds). If Chris blocked Walendo’s access to his activity information but not his location information, then his listing on Walendo’s screen would not have the time information or the speaker icon, and he would always be listed in regular font, never switching to bold. If Chris blocked Walendo’s access to his location information but not his activity information, then the location icon would not be presented, but the active/idle time and the speaker button would. See the Editing a Bub section for an explanation of how to allow or disallow access for another user.

If the Hubbub client loses its connected to the server for more than 30 seconds, then the a visual indication indicates this to the user [need to figure out what this is]. Once Hubbub reconnects, the indication shows that they are connected again.

Hubbub Overview

Hubbub is a wireless and desktop application that supports awareness and very lightweight communication among people who are distributed and/or on the go. It runs on a Palm V connected to the network via modem and on a PC desktop. Hubbub makes extensive use of sounds to enable people to hear (as well as see)¬†when other people become active or idle on their computers or Palms. This gives them a background level of awareness of who’s doing what and when someone might be available for an interaction. Hubbub also lets people send text instant messages to each other between Palms and/or desktops. And it supports a novel concept of “Sound Instant Messages,” short “earcons,” or strings of notes, with simple meanings that help people coordinate or simply keep them in touch. Examples of such messages are “hi,” “Want to go to lunch?” or “Ready to a video?” Sounds are also used to identify people; everyone chooses a “Sound ID,” which accompanies both awareness information and sound messages. This lets people simply hear that “Bonnie says hello” or “Bonnie just became active on her work computer,” without having to look at the device.

This specification is a detailed description of the user interface design for version 1. Ideas for version 2 are noted, but are meant to indicate a direction and not a full design. This document will continue to be updated as the design evolves; each page of the document indicates the date on which it was most recently updated.